Masturbation & Sex & Chastity, oh my! [Mature content warning]

Hi there!

I haven’t been on here in a while (I went Eastern, and am in Orthodox catechism this Fall–sorry my Roman friends!), but I wanted to get a Catholic answer on this–I still am enamoured with the systematic and expansive understanding of these things held by the Roman church, although I do side with the Greeks on matters of leniency… Anyhow.

I am in a bit of a bind. I am newly-engaged to my beautiful fiance, and all is well relationally.
But. I have had a habit of helping myself for 10 years now. For probably 7 or 8 of those, it was with pornography, but thanks to God and my supportive significant other, that is past. I have not yet shaken the other bit, though. It’s kind of like having to pee or being hungry–often it at least entirely seems to be free from imagination. And when it is not, (after a side comment in which she expressed she’d rather I thought of her than some made-up “placeholder”–I never have thought of real people I know) it’s with my now-fiance. So that’s one thing. Not super frequent, but not gone.

The other aspect is we’re engaged. We like each other. We both find each other attractive. We both want to make the other feel good. And it honestly feels like a desire to serve the other sometimes. Not always, admittedly, but often. I know there is disagreement on this, but we have felt that any touching (or seeing, for that matter–we’re in the US) of the parts used in marital acts is off-limits, but intense kissing, etc. is ok. And sometimes we have stronger desires to… do more. Not quite the marital act, but you can probably imagine. We are intentional about prayer requests for each other, devotions, and are going to this catechism together. We also try to do little things (notes, flowers, baked goods) for each other, so any physical stuff is extra expression, not the main dish.

So. Holding the line with one, not so much with the other. But here’s my dilemma. The desire to do one is such that I do it. The desire to do the other is not.

If (IF) I had to choose one or the other, is it better to give in to one desire alone, which only makes me feel good, or to channel it into serving her in that way, and making it a mutual good? (She doesn’t do in private what I do, but she feels the same desire to be together. Though as I’ve said, so far we have restrained ourselves.)

OR, since I do know that neither is ideal, do you have any tips for toning down or redirecting my desire both at the base level (which isn’t quite for the pleasure, it’s more… -excuse me if this is graphic- like a feeling of pressure that seeks release, though it is obviously pleasurable) AND for when we feel like serving each other?

Thank you

Both are sinful but it is less sinful to masturbate, as it involves only one person in mortal sin. By involving her, you are dragging her down as well, even if Satan has implanted the idea in your mind that it is about “serving” the other in some way (and not merely for mutual self-gratification, which it is in truth). Anything that involves her in the act causes two people to turn away from God, and not just one. (I do not say this as one with no experience, although I am now celibate.)

I’ll add the standard Catholic disclaimers here, “Go to confession, confess this, pray for grace, sincerely intend to amend your life and turn away from sin, that is, to repent”, etc., but if a man was not foreordained and called to be in a state of grace at a given moment of time, there’s nothing that man can do about it with his so-called “freedom of the will” (as if the freedom could contradict God’s decree!).

However, it is important that you do not drag anyone else down, as God most certainly does use secondary causes, including men, in order to get other men in to a state of grace or to keep them out of it. Baptism forgives sins and regenerates: a Calvinist would ask, “how is this not a work?” - it is not a work because you can not baptize yourself; only in God’s providence is there a Christian available and willing to baptize you. But, if you’re the one doing the baptizing, and baptize in one of the heretical formulas (say, “Mother Daughter and Redeemer”), you are not being used by God to effect the regeneration of people who undergo such simulated baptism: you are being used by Satan (with God’s permission, but not his command) to keep men in the darkness. The same can be said for any work of grace, sacrament, or sin that requires two or more persons: you can be used by God to lead others out of sin, or by Satan to lead others in to sin, as we - each one of our actions - is used by God as a secondary cause to infallibly put in to effect his will around us.

With a little imagination you can generalize it, I believe, to your situation: you can drag yourself down, God or someone else can lift you up (but a man can no more lift himself up than he can save himself from drowning by grabbing his own boot-straps), you can drag other(s) down, or you can lift them up.

God, please grant the graces of faith and repentance unto him that asketh of you,
So that through thine only-begotten Son, the only righteous one, trust is placed
In the Father’s eternal will, by the Holy Spirit, who liveth and reigneth with the Father and the Son,
One God, forever and ever. Amen.

Be careful about masturbation. Some have compared it to trying to put out a flame using gasoline!

Neither is the way or inproper sexuality.

Also, be careful, the devil often makes us think something bad is good. That’s one of his common tricks!

We have to even monitor our thoughts. Have you gone to precana, yet? They can advise you on all this.

Khalid, and here I thought I tangented! :wink: (kidding! But I am aiming to be a philosophy prof, so I often do…) Thank you for the clarity on it being me dragging her into something, whereas for now it is just me in a bad place–like if I were in a tiger’s pit, I wouldn’t pull her in, kind of a thing. I don’t know that I understand the intent of the other part, but I also probably end up more synergistic/semi-pelagian than it sounds you do, so that may be why.

ClearWater, we are going to be chrysmated Orthodox, so we do not exactly have PreCana. Do you have any concrete examples of help, beyond just prayer?

Thank you.

All I can say is that I know what you’re feeling. I’m fifty two years old and it is much easier to control the impulses that lead to impurity at my age but I’m not old enough to have forgotten how strong the pull to do those things at a much younger age. I’m pretty sure, that at each age I am going forward, it will be even easier in this regard.

However, these sexual feelings are just one area of many that you’ll have to constantly work over your lifetime. Eating too much isn’t good for the body, not getting enough exercise, making it to church, having an abundant prayer life, being able to forgive others, arguing with your wife, arguing with your kids, etc. The point is, your current sexual problem is just one area in life you will have to work to be holy but there will always be some new area in your life that will need work.

You asked for advice on how to control your problem and I really have none except to ask, what is the point in a long engagement? :wink:

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